Chapter 1
God and King

AZ 1449 - Late Autumn
Kairos, Zephyr

Said to be the hometown of the Lucifer during His mortal youth, Kairos was a well-traveled pilgrimage destination, but this was not what brought Xenomachos there this day. He received a special summons from the Church and the moment he could be granted leave, he made the journey south from the capital.
Although the Golden Basilica was the headquarters of the Church, the basilica at Kairos was believed to be the first, originally a pagan temple before being purged of its idolatry and consecrated by Saint Photios. Xenomachos shuddered to think of what Zephyr must have been like in the dark days of her barbarity, before Saint Photios came bearing the Light with him.
Upon entering the narthex of the basilica, Xenomachos was met by one of the priests. He offered no salutation, saying only, "Lord Xenomachos, come with me."
"Yes, Father," Xenomachos replied dutifully.
The priest led him down the side aisle on the right. The basilica was largely empty at this time of day, but there were at least a dozen worshippers scattered about in prayerful meditation. Upon turning the corner into the transept, a voice said, "Greetings, Lord Xenomachos."
Xenomachos could hardly believe it. Archbishop Gamaliel himself stood there with a number of priests and monks attending him.
"Your Holiness!" Xenomachos exclaimed.
He fell to his knees and bowed his head low to the ground.
"I am not worthy of this honor, Your Holiness."
"Do not worship me, my son," the Archbishop said, "for I am but a man, a humble servant of the Lucifer as you are. Come, stand up."
The Archbishop was gracious enough to allow Xenomachos the privilege of kissing his ring. When Xenomachos had withdrawn to a respectful distance, the Archbishop said, "You are famed for your skill in battle, Lord Xenomachos, and it is part of the reason I have sought you out."
"Sought me out, Your Holiness?"
"Yes."
"I do not understand."
"As legate of the Second Legion, you are no doubt aware of the King's plans for war against the evils lurking in the East."
"Yes, Your Holiness. I was there that day, as were you."
The Archbishop nodded.
"Indeed so. Then you no doubt recall my pledge to rally legions of the faithful to this most holy cause."
"Yes, Your Holiness."
"Who do you think will lead these legions?"
"I do not know, Your Holiness."
"What about the man standing before me?"
"Me, Your Holiness?"
The Archbishop smiled and explained, "Part of the reason I have sought you out is your famed exploits on the battlefield. The other part is your great faith. I can think of no man worthier of this honor."
To be personally chosen by the Archbishop to lead the army of martyrs, it was more than Xenomachos could believe.
"Your Holiness, I--"
"There is no need for modesty, Lord Xenomachos. The kingdom is quite fortunate to have such a righteous man counted among her protectors, but what if you could serve a higher calling? Resign you post as legate of the Second Legion and claim your place as dux of the Army of Light."
"This is... a great honor, Your Holiness," Xenomachos said hesitantly, "but..."
"But?"
"I have sworn an oath by the name of God to serve the King until he releases me from that service. I cannot break that oath without bringing judgment on my head."
"I permit it," the Archbishop said.
"Begging your pardon, Your Holiness, but what God has bound, no man can loose."
Indignant, the Archbishop asked tersely, "Do you presume to lecture me on what is right with God?"
"No, Your Holiness," Xenomachos said with a bow.
The Archbishop was silent for a moment. Though Xenomachos feared further rebuke, his resolved was unbowed. He could not break his solemn vow, not even by the Archbishop's leave.
The Archbishop gestured to Xenomachos and said to his attendants, "You see? What more upright a man could we hope for?" To Xenomachos, he said, "I will speak with the King and see if he will not release you from your service. In the meantime, you can still serve God's purpose within a profane army. It would comfort my heart to know there is a man I can rely upon to do what is right."
"There are many faithful men in the army, Your Holiness," Xenomachos replied.
"And I will be counting on you to set the example for them. Blessings be upon you, my son. Go in peace."
"Blessings upon you also, Your Holiness."
The priest from before guided Xenomachos out of the basilica. He tarried a while in the portico to consider the Archbishop's offer. If the King did release him from his duties, could he prove a worthy vessel to lead the Army of Light? He did not know, but he trusted God would guide him down the right path.